I remember quite clearly the moment I truly became a feminist and put myself on this lifelong journey of learning and activism. I was taking a paper at my university called social justice. It was a political theory paper and looked at the different theories of social justice. Whether wealth should be redistributed in society, how it should be done that kind of thing. Some of the theorists we covered were feminist theorists. Before this point I had been kind of sceptical about a gendered analysis within political studies. It had seemed kind of isolationist and awkward. Lectures which looked at a gendered analysis were almost universally the least attended and no one really seemed to take it seriously.
People in New Zealand (and I suppose in many places but I shall speak to my own experiences) have a tendency to believe that gender equality has been achieved, that the fight is over and anyone who doesn’t think this is just silly. So gender equality was something I thought that we were fighting for in the ‘developing world’.
What my lecturer did for me in this particular paper was to remove the blinkers from my eyes and let me see the many small and large ways in which gender inequality has not been achieved in my home country. Where balances of power lie. How the ways in which we critique women are different from men, how women’s work has always been devalued. It spoke to all the things I had seen that I had not had the language to articulate. It gave voice and legitimacy to the rage I felt about many things which seemed so impotent.
I see the many problems with feminism. How it fails over and over again to serve the needs of all women, yet I can’t stop calling myself a feminist because of all the tools it has given me.